It’s time to face it; the green movement is no fad. You’ve likely been feeling the pressure for some time now—be it from tenants, competing rentals, or your conscience. The good news is that a green rental is a major selling point, relatively easy, and it’s the best option financially. If money is your main concern using a property management company will help.
Having a green rental can be quite intimidating. Changing how you do business can be difficult to get started. So, we’ve made a list to help move your rental toward the environmentally sensible.
Switching your lighting up is a fast way to start conserving. Regular lightbulbs give off a lot of heat, a direct result of wasted energy. LED bulbs remain cool, pulling less energy for the same amount of light. According to energy.gov, LED bulbs will cost $1 per year compared to traditional bulbs at $4.80, and a 12w LED bulb will last twenty-five times longer bulbs.
With enough time and money, solar energy can save you a lot of cash. According to Clean Technica, in twenty years, you could save anywhere from $20,960 (Texas) to $64,769 (Hawaii).
Solar panels are becoming increasingly cheaper, making the return on investment better than ever. Consider government credits in your area, initial cost, and the amount of sunlight you get per year. Clean Technica and Energy Sage’s Solar Calculator can help you with the details. Through a process called net metering (or “banking”), you add power to the grid. Depending on local regulations and the company, you could be getting paid for your contribution.
Insulation is a great way to make your rental green, as well as save money and energy. It’s important to start with garages, attics, and basements. These areas are where most of that precious heat is lost, causing your thermostat to switch on more often.
Isn’t insulation itself horrible for the environment? While traditional types of insulation are bad for the environment, there are alternatives like Sheep’s Wool or Cotton.
Sheep live all over the world, including the wet, cold highlands of Scotland. This new insulator has been developed to be harvested and processed just for your home, and as its all-natural, it is a great choice for green insulation.
Cotton is also a great all-natural solution. It has the same insulation factor (R-value) as fiberglass and repels bugs, which is a big plus in some parts of the country. The biggest downside is the high cost, but if it’s the right type of natural insulation for your building, then it is well worth it.
Now, the other side of the heating equation. There are many great options for programmable thermostats. Some utility companies offer rebates for using programmable thermostats, so be sure to talk to them before deciding.
Programmable thermostats allow you to optimize heating/cooling times. Instead of leaving the heat or AC on all day or night, you can program these thermostats to heat the house just before the tenant returns from work or wakes up in the morning.
It’s also important to stay on top of filters. If your filters are dirty, the unit must work harder to cool or heat your property properly.
Showers, Sinks, and Toilets
Saving water isn’t just about money and H2O. There is a lot of electricity involved in the process of creating, moving, and heating the water.
Showers are a big waste of water. By replacing the showerhead, you can save thousands of gallons a year. Look for showerheads (as well as faucets and toilets) marked with the EPA’s WaterSense label.
Faucet aerators are easy to install and save water by working to maintain pressure and reduce consumption. In turn, water and energy costs go down. Bathroom faucets can go as low as 0.5 gallons per minute (GPM), while a kitchen sink should be 1.5-2GPM.
When it comes to toilets, a low-flow toilet is an obvious solution, but if buying a new toilet isn’t quite in your price range yet, a common trick is to use the brick method. By putting something in the toilet’s tank, you can fool the mechanical sensor into switching the water off sooner. Wrap a brick in plastic or fill a water bottle with sand and drop in the tank.
There’s so much you can do to make your building more earth-friendly, from paperless billing to making recycling easy for your tenants. You can have each unit metered. If each tenant is paying their utilities, they can be aware of their ecological footprint. Keep your eyes and ears out and stay informed. Stay informed and be creative. You can not only save yourself and your tenants money but help heal our natural habitats.
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